Jack Ross, our guide up to Lake Clark is an 82 year old fishing fanatic, he also is putting an addition on his house by himself using a chain saw to hand cut the wide cedar planks. He thought he might need some additional help with the roof. He makes me feel old, especially when we pulled up to check on one his creeks pouring into Lake Clark. “If you guys are going to be so god damn slow about it, I will get in there myself.” I looked up in time to see him to hook a grayling on his first cast, while I was still fumbling to free a rod from his rod rack on the side of the boat. The joy that comes with hooking a fish no matter what your age was evident in Jack’s face with every fish caught and every fish story told.
Jack Continues to Slay ‘Em | Photo by Travis Rummel
He returned us to Nondalton – where we have been camped out for the past week, attempting to get to know the subsistence lifestyle enjoyed by our Athabascan hosts. The sockeye that have made it past the commercial fishermen of Bristol bay, past the sportsfisherman on the Kvichak River, still have one big seine and a couple of gill nets to avoid in the waters of Six Mile Lake and Nondalton before nosing into the friendly national park waters of Lake Clark. The ride up river and through the lakes only gets more beautiful with each passing mile.
Ben humbly prepares to let a beast of a grayling swim away into the waters of Lake Clark | Photo by Travis Rummel
I feel like an old man – arthritic, worn down, and dirty. No showers in the last week and none on the forecast for next week. Today we head via float plane to the headwaters of the Koktuli River, this river flows directly from the intended mine site and her waters could vanish under the water intensive needs of the mine. We could not be more excited to finally experience some of the wilderness aspects of Bristol Bay and capture it for the film. 53 miles in 5 to 6 days.
Lauren is concerned about the bears – to put it mildly – and continually reminds us that we need to follow bear safety protocol to the “T.” Ben and I want to bring an extra cooler of food to compensate for the meager freeze dry rations she can squeeze into the bear proof containers. She is not happy about it. “This is how people die – green folks from the lower 48” at least we will die with full stomachs.
We will be back on the grid in early August, god willing. Please stay tuned….